4 June 2012

Review: Glamorous Illusions by Lisa T Bergren

Glamorous Illusions introduces Cora Diehl, who is returning to Dunnigan, Montana, near Glacier National Park, after completing her first year of training to be a teacher. Her father suffers a stroke and the family is about to lose their farm, when a wealthy visitor appears on their doorstep with news that will change Cora's life.

Apparently, she is not Cora Diehl, daughter of an impoverished farmer, after all. She is Cora Kensington, daughter of an ex-senator and Montana copper-mining baron. A man who now wants an opportunity to develop a relationship with his illegitimate daughter, to introduce her to her half-siblings, and to send her on the Grand Tour of Europe under the supervision of Sir Stuart McCabe and his nephew, William McCabe.

Cora has been raised with a strong Christian faith, and this comes through constantly in her speech and thoughts. Travelling in England and Europe challenges Cora to consider and confirm her beliefs and priorities as she consorts with the rich and titled. It also provides the promise of romance and the beginnings of suspense that will no doubt be continued in the rest of the trilogy. The final two books, Grave Consequences and Glittering Promises, will be released in 2013.

I recently reviewed Leaving Lancaster, and commented that I found the changing points of view distracting. Glamorous Illusions is another book that is written with first person chapters (from Cora’s point of view) alternating with chapters in the third person. Unlike Leaving Lancaster, each chapter is headed with the name of the point of view character, each has a distinctly different voice, and neither voice reads like that of a petulant teenager. I'm still not convinced of the technique of alternating between the first person and the third person point of view. But, in Glamorous Illusions, Lisa T Bergren proves that it can work in the hands of a competent writer.

Glamorous Illusions is well researched, but with a touch of modern sensibilities (e.g. the ongoing debate about whether treasures such as the Egyptian obelisks should be returned). There were a few annoying unanswered questions and one repeated plot point that I'm not convinced is historically accurate (and has the potential to derail the plot if it actually becomes important). This appears to be one of those trilogies that is the ongoing story of one main character, rather than three entirely separate stories about three related characters. For this reason, some readers may well prefer to wait until the final book is released before reading.

Thanks to David C Cook and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

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